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An extraordinary ensemble in an idyllic setting

Bebenhausen Monastery and Palace

Brunnehausen im Kloster Bebenhausen; Foto: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Ortsverwaltung Bebenhausen
A meaningful monument

History of design

Bebenhausen Monastery unites elements of the Romanesque and early Gothic periods, characterized by Cistercian simplicity. Splendid accomplishments in Gothic architecture were added in the 14th and 15th centuries. In the 19th century, the importance of the monastery complex in the preservation of historic monuments began to be recognized.

Church of Bebenhausen Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

Strict Cistercian simplicity.

Romanesque and the simplicity of the Cistercians

When the Cistercians took over Bebenhausen Abbey from the Premonstratensians in 1190, the foundations for the church and the most important buildings had been laid. What was created in the years around 1200 displayed strict simplicity in figurative decoration, as was typical for the architecture of the Cistercians. In the chapter house, parlatory, and Fraternal Hall, the first traces of the early Gothic Cistercian architecture from Burgundy and northern France can be clearly seen.

Summer refectory in Bebenhausen Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Arnim Weischer

A splendid architectural highlight.

Gothic

Especially, the vault forms in the monks' meeting rooms in the east wing of the cloister clearly show the early Gothic forms. The art of the Cistercian architects achieved its full splendor in the summer refectory built around 1335. With its slim central columns and vaults, it is among the most lovely Gothic interiors in southern Germany.

Gothic crossing tower, Bebenhausen Monastery. Image: Staatliche Schlösser und Gärten Baden-Württemberg, Günther Bayerl

The monastery's wealth resulted in large buildings.

Wealth on display

In the 15th century, the monastery became so wealthy that ambitious late Gothic buildings were created, such as the cloister with its imposing vaults. The highly varied keystones show high reliance on the sculptures of the upper Rhine. The mighty stone ridge turret above the crossing of the monastery church, visible from afar, is famous. For a Cistercian monastery, its construction was a risk, as the rules of the order only permitted a simple, wooden tower.

Appreciation in the 19th century

The first preservers of historic monuments became aware of Bebenhausen's value relatively early on. At the same time, the kings of Württemberg created a hunting lodge in the monastery. The result was an outstanding ensemble of living styles in the style of Historicism. Typically for the period, many original pieces were sensibly combined with 19th-century reproductions. In the monastery itself, murals and even—cautiously—the furnishing in some rooms, such as the summer refectory, were rounded out.

Sommerrefektorium im Kloster und Schloss Bebenhausen, Aufnahme um 1930; Foto: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Robert Bothner
Blauer Saal im Schloss Bebenhausen, Aufnahme um 1926; Foto: Landesmedienzentrum Baden-Württemberg, Robert Bothner

In Bebenhausen Palace, the styles of different eras are combined into harmonious interior decor.

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